Aaron Sumner


SXSW Interactive: Day One

Reporting in from Austin, Texas, and South by Southwest Interactive 2009. Sessions start in a little over an hour and I'll do what I can to write here about what I see, but you can get more real-time information from me on Twitter.

I've been in Austin since yesterday afternoon. In that time I've walked at least five miles around downtown, having toured the state capitol building, 6th Street, Red River Street, and parts in between. For whatever reason I always picture Austin being smaller than it really is. Also, I've yet to run into any of the gang from Austin Stories.

So far, I've been marveling at what it takes to pull off an event of this magnitude. There's something like 3,000 participants at Interactive, and it's the smallest of the three annual SXSW events. They've got pretty good processes in place to get people signed in, loaded with goody bags (I'll break down the schwag later), and on their way to sessions. I got here early-ish today and was all taken care of within 15 minutes (though now it looks like lines span up and down floors).

Going up an escalator, I was able to see down into a little walled-off area with at least 20 desks and computers set up with printers, a fax machine, etc. An entire portable office for the folks who make this happen. Pretty amazing. I've been keeping up with the sessions I'd like to see on my iPhone via the SXSW mobile interface. There are so many cool things you can to with a conference, technologically, with the right database.

I twittered, half-jokingly, that CRL needs to start a merchandise table at our conferences in the future. You can choose from no fewer than 10 t-shirt designs, courier bags, posters, and other souvenirs from SXSW. I wonder how much of a conference's costs we could recoup that way?

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